Just Because He Loves Me

My digital camera was new—part of my car wreck insurance settlement. I eagerly took hundreds of photographs as our family enjoyed a long-awaited vacation. I captured family and friends in posed and candid shots. I carefully composed images of sunsets, waterfalls, mountains, and historic sites. Several days into our trip, my camera became a tiny treasure chest of priceless memories.

Regina (youngest and still unmarried) had more experience and less fear of technology than I did, so she became my camera tutor. One evening she quickly navigated through various camera functions, explaining as she went. Suddenly, she erased all the pictures because of a formatting error. Horrified, we were helpless to restore the precious images.

“Mom, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” I wiped her tears as George and I tried to reassure her that everything would be all right.

The following morning, I wrote in my journal, “Wednesday, July 27. The loss of so many pictures made us all sad, but none more so than Regina. Such things happen so we just go on.”

I felt a little sorry for myself as I turned to Hebrews 12:2. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus. . . so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (NIV)

My written response:  “That’s the real solution, isn’t it? Fix my eyes on Jesus. That’s the cure for weariness of heart, for hopelessness.”

God tested that conviction within hours.

I went with George to a remote stream, lugging camera, lawn chair, Bible, journal and water. As he fished the stream, I read and journaled. Then I decided it was time to take more pictures. Although Regina had deleted previous pictures, I was determined to record the remainder of our trip.

With camera attached by a wrist strap, I followed the path until it disappeared into the creek. To my delight, I saw a small waterfall farther down the creek. If I climbed up over the fallen trees and then maneuvered back down to a bit of a ledge, I would have just enough room for an excellent waterfall picture.

Light and shadow, musty decay, songbirds, and buzzing insects filled my senses. I kept my camera ready as I photographed tiny flowers, a spider web, and light cascading through pine boughs. Throughout, the waterfall rumbled and reminded me of my goal.

At last, I arrived above the falls and started my descent. Determination substituted for my lack of agility. Never mind a scratch here, a bump there. Two or three big logs to clear and I’d be there. Suddenly, I lost my footing. The camera plummeted from my wrist into the water below. I scrambled over the log and inflicted a bloody bruise on my leg as I retrieved my camera from the shallow water.

I pushed buttons and pulled on the frozen lens. Nothing moved. While George fished and Regina fed chipmunks back at camp, I cried. My only option seemed to make my way back to my folding chair by the creek and wait for George.

I was heartsick. I found it hard to describe my disappointment as I recorded the second camera catastrophe in my journal.

“Later Wednesday—about 4:00. This trip won’t be recorded. I tried to ‘go where no man has gone’ and dropped my camera into rushing water. It was a full minute or so before I could climb down to it. The lens was extended, so I’m sure there is almost no hope of saving anything. I took out the batteries & opened the memory card slot. Probably useless.”

Melancholy and miserable, I returned to my Bible. In the sixth chapter of Judges, Gideon asked for a sign that confirmed God’s call to leadership. God graciously answers his prayer and produced dew on Gideon’s fleece but not on the surrounding ground. Then God sent dew on the ground but not on the fleece. Did God intend for me to apply this Scripture to my present disappointment?

That night at camp was especially poignant. George, Regina, and I ate posole by the fire and harmonized on hymns and choruses that encouraged my heart. Our campfire warmed us as its light defeated the cold, black night.

The next morning, inspired by Scripture, I wrote in my journal, “Thursday, July 28. I’m certain that believers limit God more than we imagine. If only I would allow God to be all He says He is—and invite Him to do all He desires in me and through me—according to His design for me. If only I could have that kind of faith—the world would indeed be amazed by GOD! Help me Father, in my pitiful faith. My faith is feeble. I must know You! Teach me Your ways.”

I remained desperate to fix my camera. Throughout the day, I prayed and continued unsuccessful repair attempts that probably made things worse. I put my camera in direct sun on the pick-up dash and directed hot air from my hair dryer on the lens—both bad ideas.

Thursday night after George fell asleep I prayed, “Lord, a camera is a small thing to You who spoke the universe into being. Perhaps (like Gideon) this camera should be my fleece. If you want me to write that book, please cause my camera to work again.”

This was material God and I had already covered. Silence was my answer.

“Yes Lord, I know I’m supposed to write my book even if no one ever reads it.

“Then perhaps the camera is my fleece for ministry. If You repair my camera, I’ll know I should close my counseling practice and start a speaking ministry.” Another abundant silence.

“Yes Lord, I know we’ve decided to do that”

Truth tapped on my heart: God needed no reason to fix my camera. “Could it be that You would fix my camera just because You love me?”

How often had I done things for my children with no motive other than love? Why was it so hard to believe that God wanted to do the same for me? My pillow damp with tears, I fell asleep overwhelmed with God’s generosity and unearned love.

The next morning my camera worked.

The lens contracted; I dashed outside to attempt pictures of Regina as she fed chipmunks. A red blur filled the screen. My tears and excitement escalated as the images morphed into a clear picture.

The morning before, the Holy Spirit convinced me He could do anything; I simply couldn’t comprehend why He would do something so miraculous for me. I understood His love at a deeper level that day. Jesus’ death on the cross is proof enough of God’s love, yet He delights to grant gifts just because He loves us.

However, His gifts didn’t stop there. As our trip ended, I again dropped my camera, which caused it to remain in the open position. (I know. I know) I returned to the place of purchase for a neck strap as a substitute for the useless wrist strap. I showed my camera to a young clerk who seemed mystified why I would want to take better care of a broken camera. He tried several times to make the lens retract.

“It costs as much to fix it as it does to buy a new one, but take it over to the service desk and let them have a look at it just to be sure.”

I walked in that direction and prayed, “Lord, you rescued my camera once and I know you can again. Please fix it so that I can tell others.” I figured it was worth another try, so I pressed the button and pushed on the lens just as the clerk had done.

The lens retracted.

I turned back and found the young man talking with another store employee.

“It seems I will need that neck strap to help me hang on to this. I prayed about my camera and it works.” Skeptically, he took the camera from me. He opened and closed it twice. He glanced at the young lady next to him, raised his eyebrows and shook his head in bewilderment.

Still God wasn’t through giving. Because a relative thought my experience wasn’t all that miraculous, I recounted the story with two professional photographers from our church. John and Vondel both agreed my camera should not work.

Vondel had additional good news. “I think I can retrieve those pictures Regina lost. I recently bought software that should do the trick.”

Amazingly, Vondel did just that. Not only did God “heal” my camera, He restored most of our treasured photographs—just because He loves me. Later Regina used our wounded camera in her ministry to Costa Rican children.

God eagerly waits to give you delightful gifts—just because He loves you. Believe it.

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